Jose Mourinho hailed Scott McTominay as “fantastic” in response to his decision to select the young midfielder ahead of Pogba In the Champions League round of 16 away in Spain.
Pogba was left out of the starting eleven in the goalless draw with Mourinho apparently unhappy with the French who withdrew from last weekend’s FA Cup win at Huddersfield Town due to illness.
That followed Mourinho speaking out against Pogba’s recent poor performances, with the Portuguese making a statement by selecting McTominay, 21, alongside Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic in midfield.
Mourinho later complained that there had been too much focus on Pogba before and after the match, and not enough on a player making his second Champions League start.
“In my pre-match interview I had four questions and three were about Paul, and Paul was not even playing. That’s a bit strange,” he said.
“If I was one of you (journalists), I would ask if the Manchester United manager agrees that Scott McTominay had a fantastic performance, and my answer would be that yes, he had a fantastic performance.
“He looked a senior player, a player with great maturity. Scott probably looked like a man with dozens and dozens of matches in the Champions League when this is only the second (start).”
Pogba played most of the game anyway, being sent on after just 17 minutes when injury forced Herrera off.
The French star played his part in a typically cautious, backs-to-the-wall away European performance from Mourinho’s side. But, tellingly, he later refused to stop for journalists in the mixed zone of the Sanchez Pizjuan.
“Paul made a big effort to try to give the team what I asked of them,” insisted Mourinho.
“He gave us stability. For a match away to Sevilla we had a good percentage of the ball, and I think Paul had responsibility for that.”